As Aristotle said, virtue is found mid-way between two points. The first studies conducted in the aftermath of the teleworking situation brought on by the pandemic show that, as regards this debate, the most beneficial is a hybrid model that combines the advantages of both options.
The health crisis and the toughest period of the lockdown in particular were extremely challenging, both for economy and for society, and forced us to apply and sometimes fast-track new formulas in order to sustain activity levels across the board.
Mobility restrictions and plans for the prevention of contagion risk caused teleworking to become the lifeline for companies on a global level, and technology and telecommunications networks were fundamental allies in the response to the extreme need for connectivity.
Nowadays, with most restrictions lifted, offices have once again filled with voices and activity, and teams are once again meeting face-to-face, with no screens in between. But if there is anything we have learned from the long months of the pandemic, it is that nothing will ever be exactly the way it was again.
The new normal has brought a debate along with it on the advantages and disadvantages of both remote and face-to-face working and the first studies are already providing some useful data that will lead the way towards the future of Human Resources departments.
Advantages and disadvantages: from work/life balance towards team spirit
The “Teleworking during COVID-19 times, a year later” report written by the EADA Business School between May 2020 and May 2021 notes that 68% of the people surveyed rate the teleworking experience positively.
For instance, according to the report, throughout the course of the year, overtime has been reduced and work/life balance has improved. In addition, the percentage of people who believe they are more productive when working from home has increased from 41% in 2020 to 51% today. What is more, remote working cuts costs in terms of infrastructure, company services and employee travel expenses.
Among the disadvantages, the EADA study notes a stronger feeling of isolation and stress due to working from home. Specifically, 53% of those surveyed admit that, during this year, their bonds with co-workers have weakened. Nearly half of the people surveyed expressed feelings of isolation and 52% assure they have moderate to serious burnout symptoms.
Another study, conducted by Microsoft among its employees all over the world and published in the Nature Human Behaviour magazine, mentions a possible loss in employee commitment and a lack of communication and direct collaboration among workers as possible disadvantages. This could affect idea flow and, in the long run, innovation processes.
Teleworking, the new factor of emotional wages
This universal pilot experience with remote working does not mean the disappearance of offices as we know them. Instead, hybrid models tailored to each company will slowly be defined, both in the mid and long term, combining face-to-face workdays where employees shall work side by side with their colleagues and teleworking days based on each company’s needs, possibilities and business model.
The global transformation dynamic, accelerated by the pandemic, forces companies to adopt a new human resources management model, where team productivity must go hand in hand with people’s well-being, work/life balance and motivation–and, as a consequence, with talent retention.
Digitalisation will be the essential process that will make this possible and, for this reason, it must be a priority in the roadmap of companies so as to face the challenges and opportunities derived from the new economic reality.